Leukaemia Care’s Welfare Officer answers your FAQs

Did you know we can support you with queries relating to finances, housing and much more? Our Welfare Officer, Lisa, supports patients to apply for benefits, navigate a return to work, and much more. Here, she’s answered some of your most frequent questions.

I have just received a leukaemia diagnosis; can I claim for free dental care?

Cancer patients get free prescriptions for at least five years but, unfortunately, it does not extend to dental treatment. However, you may be entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you or your partner receive low-income benefits at the start of your treatment. These include the following:

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Income support.
  • Universal Credit (in certain circumstances).
  • Guarantee element of Pension Credit.

Your partner and children will also qualify for free treatment if they are included in your benefit award. You will also be entitled if you have or are named on:

  • A valid NHS tax credit exemption.
  • A valid HC2 certificate – available if you are on a low income.
  • A valid maternity certificate.
  • Are under 18 or 18 and in full time education.
  • You are being treated in an NHS hospital and a hospital dentist carries out the treatment.
  • You receive a valid war pension and need treatment.

You will need to show your dentist written evidence that you do not have to pay for all or part of your NHS treatment.

If you are not in one of the groups listed above and have difficulty managing your dental treatment costs, you may still be able to get some help with the cost of your dental care through the NHS low-income scheme (LIS) if you have a low income. You do not need to be in receipt of benefits to apply. This scheme is means tested so you can apply as long as you (or your partner) do not have savings or property, not including where you live, worth more than £16,000. If you live in a care home permanently, this rises to £23,250.

The scheme also helps with the cost of:

  • Dental treatment.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Wigs and fabric supports.
  • Sight tests, and vouchers for glasses and contact lenses.
  • Travel to receive treatment.

For more details and if you would like some help to apply for the scheme, contact Lisa at advocacy@leukaemiacare.org.uk

I am 70 and have a diagnosis of leukaemia, among other health issues. I need help every day. Is there any financial support available for me?

If you are over State Pension Age, if your disability or long-term illness is severe enough to require assistance from another person, you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance. The amount you get will depend on how much help you require. If you need repeated help or supervision during the day, or supervision at night (but not both), you may get the lower rate of £60 per week. If you require repeated help or supervision during both day and night, or you are terminally ill, you may get the higher rate of £89.60 a week. It doesn’t matter if you are actually receiving help and assistance or not.

Attendance Allowance is not means tested so it does not matter what other money you receive, or savings you have. You can spend the money however you wish, but it may help towards the bills, travel costs or paying for extra help in the home.

If you are successful with an award of Attendance Allowance, it may also mean that you are entitled for extra help; for example, you might qualify for a council tax reduction, depending on your personal circumstances. It might also support your application for a Blue Badge.

To apply, call the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0345 605 6055, (Textphone: 0345 604 5312). They will then send a form to you. If successful, your claim is paid from the date you phoned for the form. The claim form for Attendance Allowance is long and may seem overwhelming. Help is available, and you can Lisa on 0790 321 9525. You can also read more in our benefits toolkit here.

I was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. I have applied for Personal Independent Payment (PIP) but have been turned down, scoring 0 points. I have requested a mandatory reconsideration, which did not change the decision. I have to appeal to an independent tribunal now based on their decision. Do you know who can help me?

It is possible to get help with appealing a decision, whatever stage in the process you are at. If you need some help and guidance with your appeal, Leukaemia Care can help. We are best able to help if you contact us at the start of the process, but we can still help regardless of the stage. Do not hesitate to get in touch.

For more information about PIP, please see our toolkit here.

Can I apply for a Blue Badge? I have a chronic type of leukaemia and suffer from chronic fatigue, bone pains that affect mobility.

You can apply for a Blue Badge if you have a disability or a health condition that affects your mobility. If you receive the following benefits, you will automatically qualify for a Blue Badge:

• Get the higher rate of the mobility part of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
• In receipt of PIP and scored eight points in the ‘moving around’ part of your assessment.
• Scored 10 points in the ‘planning and following journeys’ part of your PIP assessment.

Your local council may charge you up to £10 for your Blue Badge.

For more information about the Blue Badge Scheme, can be found here.

I was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. I have had 12 months off from work and would like to return to work. I have discussed this with my consultant who has told me I am well enough to return. What help is available to enable me to return to work safely?

It is perfectly understandable that you would like to return to work if you are ready, as this is a big step to your recovery and can bring back a sense of normality, financial stability, routine, as well as social contact.

As you have had a long absence from work, you could ask to speak to your manager to put together a return-to-work plan. Your employer will want to ensure that you are ready to return to work.

Work out what adjustments can help you do the job and understand what your rights are. Talking to you employer about your diagnosis can help them to understand the support you might need. This may include changes made to your work. Your employer may support you to make positive steps to ensure that you can remain or return to work. You may need to make an arrangement with your employer for times when you may need to go to the hospital or for those times when you may not be fit enough to work.

Cancer is defined as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, and Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It says that your employer must make reasonable adjustments to help you stay in work. Your employer cannot treat you differently, directly or indirectly, due to your illness.

When you have your meeting, make sure that you have your proposed plan to hand so that you can discuss this, and find out what suits both you and your employer. You can discuss:

  • A phased return back to work – To build your confidence with a gradual build-up of hours after being off sick.
  • Work updates and what has happened while you were off, new technology, access to work emails.
  • Negotiate flexible working, or working part-time, reducing or changing hours.

You can find more information about reasonable adjustments here.

If you suggest an adjustment that your employer thinks may be too costly, the government’s Access to Work scheme may be able to help. It is a fund of money that can cover transport costs if you can’t use public transport, someone employed specially to support you, or any special equipment you might need, more information can be found here.

Our latest campaign #LifeVsLivelihood is focused on helping patients and their employers discuss a safe return to work. We are calling for the government to create clearer guidance and dedicate one webpage to employers of the CEV and to extend the furlough scheme for those CEV employees whose jobs make it difficult for reasonable adjustments to be implemented. If you’d like to support the campaign you can complete our automated form that sends an email to your local MP asking them to consider our recommendations here.

You may find the following websites helpful when talking to your employer about returning to work:

Macmillan

Blood Cancer UK

If you have any further questions about returning to work, reasonable adjustments, benefits, and more, contact Lisa at advocacy@ leukaemiacare.org.uk, or call 07903 219 525.

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